Playwright Spotlight: Victoria Stewart

Planet X [Quickies Vol. 14June 2013]
Hardball [
March, 2011]

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Where did the idea for Planet X come from?
I was asked to write a play for this awesome Russian/American exchange as part of the  International Writing Program at the University of Iowa on the subject of “contact.” So I spent a lot of time riffing on “contact,” alien contact, electrical contact, contact sports. And I found this crazy Russian video clip called “Contact” about Nibiru – which is about the disastrous cataclysm that will happen when a planet connects with earth and I love conspiracy theorists as characters. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h2VOr8I4FgU

What was your favorite moment in working on this piece?
I love that it talks about 12/21/2012 which was, in fact, a predicted end of the world and which also happens to be my birthday.

What projects are you currently working on?
I’m rewriting Hamlet – yep, that’s as pretentious as it sounds. But I’m writing it from Ophelia’s point of view and making her kick ass and take names. I’m also working on a bunch of TV ideas since I’m moving to LA and I need a job!

Finish the sentence- “I love theater that…”
engages me truly. As an ex-techie, I can enjoy theater even if I’m still thinking about light cues and prop placement – which I do still think about – I’m like a robot where the screen scans over an environment and I see data along one side of the screen (missed cue, nice light change, line set go) but GREAT theater makes me forget all that.

Who is your current artist crush (any discipline)?
Art crushes – I have so many! I love, love, love Todd London’s new piece on Howlround - It’s written with finesse and fury and I think every artistic director in the regional theater should read it. 

What was the best advice you were even given as a theater artist?
Naomi Iizuka was a teacher of mine in grad school and in general, she is incredibly wise and generous. But she pulled me out of class once to tell me a title of my play sucked. (She said it very kindly.) I appreciated her blunt candor and it made me work a lot harder on my titles (which I hate, but now I go through a whole titling process if one hasn’t come to me naturally.)

What is the one thing you know as an artist now that you wish you could tell your younger self?
Just get it done. You can always make it better later.

Outside of theater, what are you really into right now?
I love the TV shows Nashville and Scandal. I just read Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg and was “hmm-mm”ing through it all. I love the band Cloud Cult and wish I could follow them like a Phish fan. I wish I had something more hoity-toity but I’m breastfeeding which means I’m stationary for 40 hours a week feeding my baby so I’m taking the easy way out with well-written soap operas and thrillers for the next few months.

What is your favorite and least favorite word?
Favorite: “Ruse. ” it has such a slippery sound for a word that means deception.
Least favorite: “impactful” – it’s not a word. (But is becoming one as more and more people use it.)

Any other toughts you’d like to share? (About Live Girls! Theater, Quickies, Love, Life, Puppies, Ponies…really – anything at all?)
Live Girls has premiered two of my plays, plays that no one else would take a chance on. They are golden to me.

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BIO:
Victoria Stewart graduated from the University of Iowa Playwrights’ Workshop. Her newest play, RICH GIRL was co-produced by George Street Playhouse and Cleveland Playhouse this spring.  Her plays include HARDBALL (Live Girls! Theater, SPF), 800 WORDS: The Transmigration of Philip K. Dick (Caravan Theatre, Workhaus Collective, Live Girls! Theater), LIVE GIRLS (Urban Stages, WHAT, Stage Left), and MERCY WATSON TO THE RESCUE (Children’s Theatre Company).She also collaborated on FISSURES (lost and found) produced at the 2010 Humana Festival. Recently, she wrote a screenplay for HBO, APPETITE FOR SELF-DESTRUCTION, and she co-created CLANDESTINO (secret, illegal, hidden) about the INS raid in Postville, IA. She has received the Francesca Primus Award, a McKnight Advancement Grant, the Helen Merrill Award, and the Jerome Fellowship. She is a producing member of the Workhaus Collective and a member of WGA West.

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